What’s That?

by jkatejohnston

21 May 2014

Dear Max,

My cyst had a checkup yesterday, another sonogram. I asked the technician if she could show me on the screen and explain things, and she said she’s not supposed to because she’s not a doctor.

“Can you tell me if it’s a boy or a girl?” She laughed. “I’ll bet you hear that joke a lot.”

“Yeah. A lot of men tell that joke. But it’s still funny.” She was a nice woman. Then she showed me the cyst, a round dark mass, and pointed out my poor bladder squeezed in beside it.

“Is that that why I have to pee every five minutes?”

“Well, it’s pressing on your bladder. So it’s just like when you’re pregnant.”

I’d thought it was just age and impending incontinence/mortality, so this was wonderful news. And it’s occurring to me now I could have thought it was diabetes, but now it’s too late to have that particular paranoia.

Then I had to scoot to the end of the table and she did the part where she sticks the wand (if that’s the word—sensor?—stylus?) anyway, the piece of equipment up your snatch. It took about twenty minutes, and I almost fell asleep. It was a darkened room, I hadn’t slept much the night before, and I have no sense of personal dignity at all.

After it was over I was out in the parking lot unlocking my bike. It was the same doctor’s office where we got the first sonogram when I was pregnant, the one where they show you the tiny penis or lack of same, the boy-or-girl appointment. And I remembered standing in that same parking lot with Teresa, looking at each other like: A boy–what’s that? Having a softball-sized growth of unknown provenance is a lot less joyful but also less alarming.

Speaking of the boy, I have some notes here:

Pointing at a picture of a pirarucu, “Look at that ancient design.”[1]

Looking through a catalog of stuff for kids that we got in the mail, “This is a candy sanctuary. It has six-and-a-half pages of candy.” He points out the life-size gummy mustaches and the wax bottles filled with colored liquid. We cut off his daily supply, so he’s more entranced by candy than ever, if that’s possible.

I have a phone appointment with the doctor today to discuss my pictures. I hope I don’t need surgery. It sounds like a great way to get out of stuff, but on the whole I’d rather not. Can’t they just take one of those big amniocentesis needles and pop the motherfucker? Give me the needle, and I’ll do it myself.


Doctor says my cyst has not changed and this is good. I can have surgery if I want or do another ultrasound in September. She’s surprised, given the size, that I have no symptoms. I asked her what symptoms would be expected so that I could start working on them. Ha ha. Needless to say, I’ll be skipping the surgery. I didn’t explain my Theory of Insensitivity.


[1] Encyclopædia Britannica says, “Pirarucu (Arapaima gigas), also called arapaima or paiche,  ancient, air-breathing, giant fish of Amazonian rivers and lakes. One of the largest freshwater fishes in the world, the pirarucu attains a length of nearly 3 metres (10 feet) and a weight of 220 kg (485 pounds). The fish has a peculiar profile in that the front of the body is long and narrow, whereas the rear is flat and possesses only a rudimentary, rounded tail.